Where Marilyn Monroe meets Helmut Schmidt in a field of Mellow Yellow

Few enterprises must ring more sentimental than the naming of roses, as a trip this week to the Portland Rose Garden illustrated. There was “Falstaff,” the floppy blooms droopy from the persistent showers, and “Jude the Obscure,” no blooms at all, and “09R207,” waiting to be named like a waggling puppy at the pound (we would name him “Clumsy Pink”). The “Ingrid Bergman” gave no scent. “Opening Night” yielded velvet, dark red petals. “Mellow Yellow” brought back that woeful Donovan tune. And “Helmut Schmidt” seemed peacefully at ease in its smoky yellow, inviting conversation. We passed easily by “Easy Does It,” and came to “Marilyn Monroe,” our favorite of the day, its reddish-berry pinks unfolding into ice-creamy-yellow pastels.

By then we were fast at the game of anticipating any rose’s name, almost always surprised, though, if not disappointed, as in the case of the rose which surely should have been named “Peppermint Ice-cream,” its random, maroon stripes rippling through vanilla-white spoonfuls, but it was instead called “Sentimental.”